Who said that the cognitive training has to be tough and focused on boring and repetitive exercises? Based on recent studies on the medical use of gamification, ICT4Life developed specific games for people affected by Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s or other kinds of dementia to offer them a tool to train their cognitive skills by playing alone or with their relatives or friends.
In particular, ICT4Life system focuses on serious games, which, according to the definition of the Financial Times Lexicon, are games designed for a purpose beyond pure entertainment. This kind of games exploits the positive aspects of an attractive design (competition, curiosity, interaction, challenge) and game media (board games through physical representation or videogames) to strengthen the users’ motivation to perform boring or complex tasks. Recent research studies have demonstrated the importance of serious games to increase cognitive skills. For example, some cognitive rehabilitation exercises, like computer games to enhance focus, may be helpful with cognitive impairments, as stated by Dr. Ronald C. Petersen, neurologist at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, USA.
Such benefits are well known by the ICT4Life consortium, that developed and tested serious games specifically conceived for patients’ needs. In order to facilitate the users, the technical partners of the project chose the Smart TV as support for the cognitive games. In France, Hungary and Spain the first testing of the ICT4Life games started in October 2017 and showed that the games on the Smart TV are very well accepted by Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients, as well as by their caregivers, who see the games as an interactive tool that they can use with their care-receivers, beyond their usefulness in training cognitive skills.
During the tests, the users enjoyed playing games, such as the trivial pursuit, the memory games and the hanged man and they were so deeply concentrated that they totally forgot they were actually attending a testing session!
Patrizia Papitto and Ariane Girault